Turkey warns against attacks on its presence in Libya

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said Haftar's LNA received warplanes with'foreign support

Libya's internationally recognised government retook parts of southern Tripoli on Friday from the militias loyal to warlord Khalifa Haftar, whose 13-month campaign to seize the capital is under ever-greater pressure.

Turkey has warned that attacks on its interests in Libya by renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar's forces will have "grave consequences" after advances by the country's Turkish-backed government.

The LNA, however, said it had already withdrawn from those areas in a humanitarian gesture for Ramadan.

In what could be their most significant advance for almost a year, the GNA took control of the al-Watiya airbase southwest of Tripoli on Monday.

Haftar's forces withdrew as much as three kilometres from all frontlines on Wednesday, dealing a huge blow to their attempt to capture the city. The focus of the conflict has shifted towards Tarhouna, the biggest remaining LNA stronghold in northwest Libya.

The United States officially backs the UN-recognized government and opposes Haftar's offensive.

Haftar - who is backed by USA allies Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia - launched an offensive in April 2019 to seize Tripoli that has killed hundreds.

"In the event Turkish interests in Libya are targeted, this will have very grave consequences", Mr Aksoy said.

Haftar planned to take Tripoli in a lightning operation in April 2019 and many of his forces' attacks have been launched from Al-Watiya, killing many civilians.

A recent United Nations report on Libya's widely violated arms embargo also showed support for Haftar by mercenaries from a Russian security group seen as close to President Vladimir Putin.

Since 2014, Libya has been split between rival factions based in Tripoli and in the east, in a sometimes chaotic war that has drawn in outside powers and a flood of foreign arms and mercenaries.

It also maintains for training an L-39, a Czechoslovakian-built jet, which made its first flight in 2018 after more than 31 years in storage.



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